Independent schools more affordable than financial marketing campaigns suggest

The end of the summer school holidays is a time when many financial institutions launch glossy marketing promotions to encourage parents to save for their children’s future schooling by using education focused savings products.

The Independent Schools Council of Australia (ISCA) supports parents using sensible strategies to help provide for their children’s schooling, but cautions that some of the school fee estimates quoted in the marketing material of these products are not representative of the majority of Independent schools.

For example, the education contribution fund provider Australian Scholarships Group (ASG) recently claimed that the total national average cost of metropolitan non-government schooling (K-Yr 12) for a child born in 2018 would be close to half a million dollars.

While ASG admit their school fee figures ‘represent the upper ranges that parents can reasonably expect to pay,’ they neglect to show just how small a proportion of Australia’s Independent schools are actually charging the kind of fees that could contribute to those sorts of cumulative costs.

ASG’s fee estimates state that in 2018 the national metropolitan upper-range figure parents could expect to pay in secondary school fees is $21,004 per annum. However, the most recent official data available data shows a median Australian metropolitan Independent school fee of $6,441 per annum. Nationally, 70 per cent of metropolitan Independent schools are charging below $10,000 per annum.

Fees in Independent schools vary greatly, with the majority of them much more affordable than modelling like ASG’s suggests. In addition, there are numerous ways parents can save on costs; with many Independent schools offering scholarships, all-inclusive fees, and discounts for siblings or lump sum payments. ISCA strongly urges parents to do their own research on the fees of schools that interest them.

ISCA’s school fee information is derived from data of fees collected from all Australian Independent schools in 2016 (the most recent year for which accurate data is available), and reflects the great diversity that can be found across schools and between states and territories.

ASG last year stated that their school fee estimates were derived from a combination of 2013 and 2015 surveys of their parent members (and adjusted for CPI), which asked them to estimate various costs that they paid for their children’s schooling. They state these are a guide only and do not guarantee that they will represent actual costs.


Australian Scholarships Group (ASG) estimated metropolitan fees-only Independent school costs for 20171

Primary $11,627 $13,542 $12,452 $9,683 $9,758 $9,022 $11,614 n/a $13,852
Secondary $21,004 $24,271 $24,776 $15,177 $16,464 $18,140 $17,821 n/a $15,634


ISCA overview of fees charged by Australian metropolitan Independent schools in 20162

Median3 fee per student (Metro only)

Median3 6,441 6,074 8,947 6,115 5,031 5,754 3,604 3,143 7,797


Ranges of metropolitan Independent school fees (including primary, secondary and combined schools) 2016 5

$20,000 and above 11% 13% 22% 2% 3% 10% 0% 0% 6%
$15,000 – $19,999 9% 7% 14% 8% 13% 5% 0% 0% 11%
$10,000 – $14,999 10% 11% 10% 14% 6% 3% 21% 0% 6%
$5,000 – $9,999 33% 29% 29% 38% 28% 45% 17% 15% 50%
$0,000 – $4,999 37% 40% 25% 39% 49% 36% 62% 85% 28%


1 The figures above present ASG’s estimates specifically for school fees for 2018, and were taken from their website. They state that costs “represent the upper ranges that parents can reasonably expect to pay” and attribute the source of data to a 2017 survey of their parent members, plus CPI adjusted data from similar surveys conducted in 2013 and 2015.

2 ISCA’s school fee information is derived from data of fees collected from all Australian Independent schools in 2016, which is the most recent year for which accurate data is available.

3 Median denotes the dollar value lying at the midpoint of the range of fees charged.

4 For statistical purposes no Northern Territory or Tasmania schools are regarded as metropolitan. Therefore, figures quoted here are for the entire Northern Territory and Tasmania.

5 Percentages may not add up to 100 due to rounding.

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